Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sorceress by Michael Scott

Awe, Man! This is the third book in a series that started with The Alchemist and The Magician. If you have been following my blog you know that I liked The Alchemist, though I thought it a little cliche, and I liked The Magician even better. But this book has the same problem that often plagues authors when they have their first successful series. It badly needed to be edited! When the first books do well, the authors think they are hot stuff, and they know their editors will take their next book no matter what. So they refuse to be edited. Somehow, Mr. Scott thought we hadn't read his other two books. He had to go back over all that had happened before. He retold the whole story, and rehashed all the facts he had introduced in the first two books, over and over again. Each character had to be amazed, all over again, that the stories they used to think were fantasy were, in actuality, real. There were really only four new characters introduced, three good guys and a bad guy. Shakespeare was a little funny because he kept quoting his own plays, but the others were not that interesting. In all honesty, the book would have been way better if it had been cut down to 300 pages instead of 500. I just checked Scott's webpage and there are at least 3 more in the series. The next one, though not as long as this one, is over 400 pages. So I think I am done with this series unless someone else reads the rest of them and tells me the third book was the worst one. (512 p.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Starred Reviews

A couple of reviews ago, I mentioned that if I had a ranking system, I would give the book a starred review. Since then I thought, "Why not." It might be helpful for you few who know about and read the blog if you could search for my favorite books. So I am instituting a star system. It is simple. If a book is one of my favorites of those I have read lately, it will get a star. Of course, typing a star is a little challenging, so I will use a capital "S". It could stand for "Star" or "Superior" or whatever. I will go back and add them right now. Check the side bar to see my new "S" ranked books.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

This sequel is just as fun as the first, Leviathan. If you haven't read that one yet, you might want to miss this review because it will contain spoilers. With the Austrians and British working together The Leviathan makes it to Istanbul, but the British do not receive the welcome they had hoped for. Istanbul is full of Germans, and the Sultan has just made a German military officer the head of the Navy. Dr. Barlow and the Leviathan must switch to plan B which includes sabotage. Alek and the Austrians have a plan of their own. Alek is able to escape the Leviathan with his chief engineer, but instead of disappearing into the wilds of Turkey, as his aid, Volga, had suggested, he finds himself involved with Turkish rebels, seeking to over throw the government. This book has new machines and new "Beasties." There are exciting battle scenes and a cute love, or rather, crush triangle. I am so glad the final book, Goliath, is out. I just put it on hold. (485 p)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Cute Picture Books

I read through some cute picture books at the library today. I don't have time to fully blog each one, but here is a quick mention. Sorry the pictures are in the wrong order.

A Friend for Einstein: The Smallest Stallion by Charlie Cantrell
This is a picture book about the world's smallest horse. It is illustrated with bright color photographs of Einstein and his friends. He is so cute it is worth checking out the book if only to look at the pictures.

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
Just as the farmer takes a baby pig home from the market, the queen accidentally drops her new baby daughter out the window. The two exchange places with amusing consequences.

Just Because by Rebbecca Elliot
This is a sweet picture book about why a boy loves his handicapped sister. It made me think of some special handicapped children I know.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Isaac Newton by Kathleen Krull

Here is another short biography by Kathleen Krull. Once again, I like her writing style, and I like that fact that she does a "warts and all" approach to the depiction of her characters. But as with her biography of Leonardo DaVinci, I don't like the fact that she tries to make the case that Newton was gay. The only evidence she puts forth is that he never married, and he had several close friends that were male. Why does that make him gay? Can't people have close friendships without there being a sexual component? Anyway, I am about to give up on Kathleen Krull.

On the other hand, this biography helped me appreciate what an awesome intellect Newton had. He came up with all his most famous ideas during one summer when he was 24 years old, and then spent the rest of his life investigating and polishing them. That one man could have such an expansive world view in so many topics is amazing. He made major, world changing, discoveries in physics, optics, astronomy and mathematics. (126 p.)

The Black Arrow by Rober Louis Stevenson

Here I am reading more Robert Louis Stevenson. I just can't help it. I love the language and all the swashbuckling adventure. There is something quaint in the total lack of political correctness. The girl is stereotypically female, and our hero, Dick, is stereotypically heroic. The noblemen are corrupt and the commoners are simple. I must admit that I didn't like this one as well as Kidnapped or Treasure Island. This one is about the War of the Roses. Our hero, Dick starts out on one side of the conflict, and then switches to the other for a while before deciding they are all daft together. In the end he takes his sweetheart, marries her, and they go off to live on a farm together. A child would have to be quite a medieval geek to enjoy this one. (328p.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

About a year ago Scott Westerfield came to the Provo Library as part of our teen book festival. I wanted to read Leviathan before he came, but all the copies of his book were checked out with a holds list as long as your arm. I finally got a hold of Leviathan and I am so glad I did. What a fun and fascinating romp it is. This is another in the "Steam Punk" genre, set in an alternate WWI. The young prince of Austria, Alec, has to escape his home in the middle of the night when his parents are killed by assassins. With a small crew of loyal supporters, he flees in a large mechanical walker. The Germans and their allies has developed advanced mechanical war machines (think Star Wars, ice planet of Hoth). The British, on the other hand, have discovered the secrets of DNA and have created biological monstrosities as their weapons of choice, including a large, zeppelin-like, floating, whale called Leviathan. The battle lines are drawn between the "Beasties" on one side, the "Clankers" on the other. One of the "crewman" on the Leviathan is really a girl, going by the name of Dillan, who has disguised herself as a boy because she wanted to join the airship's crew. Of course, the young prince and Dillan meet up and become friends. I won't say anymore. You have to read it yourself. I have entirely enjoyed this one. It is so imaginative and the characters are interesting and fully realized. The only drawback is that the first book comes to an end without really ending. Luckily the second book, Behemoth, is already out so you can jump right into it after you finish the first. If I had a ranking system I would give this book a starred review. (440 p)